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Friday, July 31, 2009

Free Starbucks will always lure me in

Starbucks and I go back a long way. After all, they helped fund my university education by employing me twice; once in Montreal and once in Toronto. As a Starbucks barista I drank my way through the entire menu many, many times. I was probably drinking 15 dollars worth of coffee at one point in time, which leads me to point out that a) Starbucks is very bad for your waistline, b) once you have made your own lattes you become very picky about them, and c) Starbucks is way, way, way overpriced. Thus, at one point in time Starbucks and I parted ways when my wallet could no longer support my habit.

Somewhere along the line, I did however, manage to acquire and register a Starbucks card so I get e-mails once in a while. Today was free Vivianno day, so being the shameless lover of free food that I am, off I went to Starbucks. Viviannos are Starbucks' answer to their calorically evil gamut of food and drinks (don't believe me? Go check out how many calories there are in Frapuccinos, they're basically Big Macs in a cup). Anyways, they're fairly straight-forward; a banana, milk, protein and fibre powder and either strawberries/mocha/orange and mango, depending on the flavour. My verdict is: not bad at all. I got the banana chocolate flavour which was not too sweet. Given that most of their cold drinks are super sweet I was surprised. It is however, rather filling which would make it a good snack if your looking for something to tide you over until your next meal. I don't know if I would pay the 4-5 bucks that they cost but overall it is a good addition to their menu. If you're near a Starbucks I would say they're worth checking out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I get my cooking gene from my parents

Behold my parent's Christmas turkey.

I found this photo on my hard drive and just had to post it. My parents brine the turkey and then smoke it. My Dad has a smoker in the back yard, which gets a lot of mileage, even in the dead of winter. I am jealous of the shiny, perfect, golden brown skin. The taste is to die for, smokey, moist and flavourful. It's one of the reasons I go back to Toronto, and to see my parents of course!

Somethings I just can't bring myself to make

Whenever I cook I always vacillate between indulgence and flagellating myself for eating too much fat, sugar and carbs (in other words, everything that makes food worth eating). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy salads as much as anyone but certain things I just can't bring myself to make. I decided to subscribe to the magazine above in a fit of good intentions. Unfortunately, after receiving it for a while I've only made a few recipes. This month's offerings include brownies made with sweet potatoes and burritos made with edamame. *Shudder* I'm starting to think about getting a subscription to Fine Cooking instead where butter is not a dirty word.

But seriously, even though I try to cut down on fat and not go overboard since some recipes use insane amounts (Paula Deen and Ina Gartner, I'm looking at both of you) some dishes are not meant to be healthy. Deviled eggs with silken tofu in lieu of the yolks are not a party dish but an abomination. I remember buying a healthy cooking book which insisted that yogurt with a dash of vanilla and a bit of sugar was a perfectly suitable substitute for icing. Alas, but no. I always wonder what butter/sugar/carb deprived individuals manage to convince themselves of that sort of thing. So while I strive to not go overboard with my cooking when it comes to food preparation you will have to pry my sticks of butter out of my cold, dead hands. That is, if they don't melt first.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fresh Naan from scratch

I have been on a huge Indian food kick lately. Jamie Oliver's new book, "Jamie's Food Revolution" has a whole chapter on home-made curry pastes and I've really been enjoying trying them out. I decided to make Naan this weekend. The recipe is very easy . It's basically flour, an egg, milk, yeast and water. I decided to make them on my little stove top grill. I took the picture above right before I flipped them. I got excited when they started puffing up like in the recipe. Below is the picture after I flipped them. Seriously, warm bread is one of the greatest things in like. I had to keep from inhaling the whole batch. I ate them with tandoori salmon and shrimp but they're so good even with non-Indian food. This morning I had one smeared with cream cheese and a slice of applewood smoked ham. This recipe is definitively a repeat!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Ice Cream Denouement

Behold the deliciousness. Unfortunately I had a few mishaps. I forgot to add a cup of milk (d'oh! as Homer would say), which I only realized after I had taken it out of the ice cream maker. It was The Husband who pointed it out after noticing that I had barely used any milk for making the ice cream. Oops. Anyways, after a huge mess in the kitchen and overnight freezing the deliciousness was finally ready.

I have to say, home made ice cream blows the grocery store stuff out of the water. It is very, very rich. I could practically feel my hips expanding with every spoonful but it was so utterly worth the mess and the calories.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution- Rogan Josh and Spicy Chili Rice

I absolutely love Jamie Oliver. The man rocks my world, seriously. If I ever met him I might have to do the "I'm not worthy". Ahem, anyways after my ice cream experiment I made Rogan Josh and Spicy rice for dinner. For myself, not the man, since he can only tolerate barely undetectable amounts of chilies in a dish.
One of the things I love about this cookbook (which my very nice mother bought me) is that he has a whole page on home made curry pastes. The husband has food allergies and it curtails what I can buy ready-made at the supermarket (as much as I like food, I like him even more). I used jalapenos and cherry chilies for the paste. Alas, it was barely hot. Of course, the husband thinks my tolerance to chilies is insane, and I am contemplating whether or not I have to start mainlining habanero hot sauce in order to get my fix. Anyways, the Rogan Josh was awesome, if I do say so myself. Making the paste is a bit messy but the whole recipe is pretty straight forward.

Here be the makings of the paste. My counter was an utter mess at this time, I don't think I will ever manage to cook neatly. The turmeric and the tomato paste are lurking in the background of the picture. I used my trust magic bullet to puree it hence why it is in a mug, not because I was planning to drink it.

Here is the finished product. You can see the chunks of chicken, along with the tomatoes. So good, I don't think I've ever had a dud from any of Jamie's cook books.
Behold the spicy rice. Perfect with the Rogan Josh. Although between the butter in the Rogan Josh and the rice and the cream in the ice cream I don't think that it does my waistline any flavour, although my taste buds are thanking me. Great recipes, I give them an 8 out of 10.

Adventures in ice cream making

I have finally acquired an ice cream maker. So I add yet, another weapon to my culinary arsenal. The husband is bemused about yet another kitchen gadget in our cupboards. It comes courtesy of Costco. Land of discounted goods and impulse buys. I had been thinking about buying one for a while so when I saw one, I took it as a sign of the kitchen deities.

The new member of the family
I have yet to buy an ice cream cookbook but I did buy Fine Cooking for June/July 2009 which features a nice article by David Leobovitz, author of "The perfect scoop."

I decided to make Vanilla Bean and Dulce de Leche ice cream. It's not in the magazine but since I love anything with Dulce de Leche I thought it would be a good idea.

The method if fairly simple. You can find the basic vanilla recipe here:

This is at the beginning of the recipe. I added 1/4 of a cup of sugar too much (oops) and no bourbon. The little brown strings are vanilla bean pods.

This is after the mixture sat for an hour infusing and the egg yolks were added. I love the golden colour and the little flecks of vanilla. Although you can't make them out from this picture.

After an enormous mess the whole thing is currently sitting in the freezer. I of course liked the spatula I used to scrape it out and it tastes awesome.
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